As London’s most successful club, Arsenal have enjoyed an allusive history. Sometimes, however, the results are as surprising as they are unpredictable. Here are some of Arsenal’s most unpredictable wins ever.
Arsenal 5 – 1 Inter Milan, 2003
Even with Thierry Henry at the peak of his powers, nobody could have called such a resounding win over the illustrious Italian giants, Inter Milan at the San Siro. On that Champions League night in 2003, Arsenal would have been eliminated from the Champions League before Christmas had they have lost and, let’s not forget, Inter had trumped the Gunners 3-0 at Highbury two months earlier. Instead, they put injuries aside, rallied and staged one of the greatest night’s in the club’s history.
What was a great night for one, was a terrible one for the other, as Inter suffered their heaviest home defeat in 47 years of European football. Henry it was the got the ball rolling with a goal in the 25th minute, which was levelled out before half time by Christian Vieri. Freddie Ljungberg restored the advantage for the away team not long after the break, and Henry added a third five minutes from time. This game was so unpredictable that even with mere minutes to spare, the result couldn’t be called as there was more for Arsenal’s fans to enjoy yet. Edu and Robert Pires, on as a substitute, added four and five respectively.
Liverpool 0 – 2 Arsenal, 1989
Football doesn’t get more dramatic than it did that night at Anfield in 1989. Liverpool, looking to secure a double, were the game’s dominant force at the time and, while only needing to avoid a two-nil defeat to win a record 18th league title, they would still have expected to defeat a very good Arsenal team. But football, as it so often does, had other, unpredictable plans.
The Gunners went one up in controversial style after Alan Smith may, or may not, have glanced in an indirect free kick from left back Nigel Winterburn. Either way the game stood and, with manager George Graham’s tactics being built on a mean defence and one nil breakaway football, the league title’s eventual destination looked far from certain.
And, sure enough, with the last kick of the season the unpredictable happened. Goalkeeper John Lukic threw the ball to Lee Dixon who in turn found Smith who played the ball through to Michael Thomas. The ball took a lucky bounce that left Thomas baring down on goal and, with Liverpool defenders swarming, the midfielder flicked the ball over Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar for the 0-2 win that the gods had demanded. Arsenal were title winners and Michael Thomas went on to join Liverpool just 18 months later.
It is nights like that that one at Anfield that demonstrate why sports betting is so popular. In that case a 0-2 win was unexpected enough to have generated large odds and a 0-2 Smith first goal scorer scorecast would have played out a massive amount.
Nowadays we have in play betting so, when Sergio Aguerro won the title for Manchester City in 2012, there would have been a lot of real money to be made. As they were losing late in the match before City scored twice in the final two minutes of added time to beat QPR, a late, but brave, in-play bet on the outcome that eventually played out would have given many online bookmakers sleepless nights.
Betting online is so easy these days thanks to smartphones which have helped to flood the market with many competitors, each offering their own features and special offers.
Preston North End – Arsenal, 1953
Most people might consider Anfield ’89 as the most dramatic end to a title race but the climax to the 1952/53 season was equally hectic. The last match of that season wasn’t a heads-up fight between two sides like in 89, but Arsenal just nicked the Division One crown from Preston by the skin of their teeth, or to be more precise, by a goal average of 0.099 of a goal.
Tom Whittaker’s Gunners team would have avoided the photo finish had they not lost 2-0 to Preston, who had tied level on points with Arsenal having one game remaining against Burnley. With Preston winning their final game the night before, nothing short of a Gunners’ victory would suffice.
Things did not look good three minutes in after Joe Mercer scored an own goal to give Burnley the lead before goals from Jimmy Logie, Alex Forbes and Doug Lishman sent the Gunners roaring into the lead Then, the Clarets pulled a goal back leaving a desperate Arsenal holding on before their superior goal average saw them crowned as champions, just.
Real Madrid 0-1 Arsenal, 2006
In February 2006, Arsenal did the almost unthinkable when they beat Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, something that before then no English side had achieved. Once again plagued by injuries, Arsène Wenger’s young side somehow pulled it altogether and ran out one nil winners in one of the most daunting stadiums and against the most decorated club in Europe. The Gunners made the final that year, losing to Barcelona, who would a year from then look to buy the team’s star player, Frenchman Thierry Henry. It was Henry who took the winner here, too, as The Gunners seized on sloppy control from Ronaldo and finding Henry who slalomed his way into the box and drilled the ball across Iker Casillas into the far bottom corner.